When I started in 1980 on the amphibian catalog,
it had been a hundred years since this had been done. So it was an enormous amount of
work to catch up because the number of amphibians had basically quadrupled. Conservation agencies
and regulatory agencies really needed to have agreed-upon references so they all knew that
they were speaking the same language. CITES, which is the Convention on International Trade
of Endangered Species and the International Union of Conservation of Nature, which is
a big umbrella group for conservation agencies, they wanted these catalogs done. We’ve got
7,170 species of amphibians. Probably half of all the publications that have ever been
done on amphibian taxonomy have happened since 1990. We’re learning about these things right
as they’re going extinct. The conservation people need to know what they want to conserve.
They need kind of unbiased expertise, and I provide that. It turns out it’s very useful
for the scientific community because they can very rapidly go and find out what the
relevant literature is. The amount, and I think the quality of amphibian research worldwide
jumped because people could access literature, and they could find out what they otherwise
might be ignorant of.